Woman perishes in fatal East Side fire


A 92-year-old woman died Sunday afternoon as a fire broke out at 1709 Gretchen Ave. on the city's East Side. New Castle and a Shenango Fire District fire fighter aiding in battling the blaze.

An elderly East Side woman died Sunday afternoon when a fire swept through her home.

Betty Yachym, 92, of 1709 Gretchen Ave. was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:48 p.m. by Lawrence County Coroner Russell Noga.

Noga said the woman was found on the floor in the kitchen of her home. He said the cause of death appeared to be acute smoke inhalation due to carbon monoxide, but said an autopsy was to have been performed Sunday night at Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver County.

New Castle firemen, called to the scene at 2:15 p.m., were told there was the possibility that someone was trapped inside the house. When they arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming out of the back of the house, said assistant fire chief Mike Kobbe.

He said the back door of had been forced open by Yachym's son-in-law, "but the smoke, heat and fire were too great and forced him back," Kobbe said.

He said fire fighters entered the building and found the victim was deceased before they got to her.

"We called in the New Castle police department and the coroner to investigate," Kobbe said.

He said he does not believe arson is involved, "But when there is a fatality, we call for a full investigation."

He noted that New Castle police fire investigator Sgt. David Viggiano and officer Chris Fabian were called to the scene. Kobbe said the fire appears to have begun in the kitchen.

Firemen left the scene to return to the fire station at 5:55 p.m., Kobbe said.

He said he did not know if the victim sustained burns or any other injuries resulting from the fire.

Due to the severity of the smoke and flames, he said, firemen called a "general alarm" which resulted in all available firefighters reporting to the scene. He said 18 New Castle firefighters were present. He added that one Shenango Fire District volunteer firefighter also participated.

"He was doing handyman things at a house in the area and ran to assist at the fire scene," Kobbe said.

He added that a county deputy public safety individual lives across the street from the burning house and also took part.



Nancy Lowry is a reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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